This winter has been tough for local outdoorsmen.

Poor ice conditions have limited the fishing on many area lakes, a lack of snow has taken snowmobiling off the list of winter options, and rabbit hunting has also suffered from sparse snow cover.

Without the ability to pursue outdoor activities, what’s a hunter or angler to do? Well the strange winter we’ve had so far prompted this outdoorsman to sit down with two recently published books and at least enjoy the out-of-doors from a comfortable chair by the fire.

As this past week’s snowstorm raged, I found myself alongside the Magalloway River in western Maine. Well, actually I wasn’t there, but thanks to the descriptive prose of Robert Romano, I felt like I was right at the water’s edge. His second book, “Shadows in the Stream,” ( is an intimate look at an area in Maine where he and his family have summered for the past 20 years.

An avid angler and talented writer, Romano describes in infinite detail the area of Western Maine that includes his camp overlooking Aziscohos Lake. The contents of “Shadows in the Stream” include his fishing adventures on Long Pond, Big Magalloway River, Little Kennebago Lake, Cupsuptic Lake, Upper Dam and the Rapid River, plus many more spots. Being a frequent visitor to the Rangeley region, I found myself nodding in affirmation when he described details of such spots as the dam at Aziscohos Lake, or the remnants of the Lower Dam at Pond-in-the-River.

Go West

Romano takes the reader on a journey of the woods and waters of this corner of the state where fishing was once a booming tourist draw and still remains so today.

It is evident from his descriptions of the history of the region that he has sought out all the information he could about the area. A tale of fishing past and present in this neck of the woods would be incomplete without the mention of Carrie Stevens and her impact on the sport of fly fishing, when she invented the Gray Ghost streamer fly in 1924. Romano also introduces the reader to other local characters who helped make the Rangeley region so popular in the early 1920s and 30s. Herb Welch, a noted guide, taxidermist and owner of the tackle shop at Haine’s Landing, Shang Wheeler, noted guide and poet and Col. Joseph Bates, author and fervent angler, all are mentioned.

Aside from the prose that will make a regular to the region nod when a favorite fishing hole is mentioned, Romano’s knowledge of the area paints a realistic picture for the reader who has never set foot in Maine. Although it is still several months until the lakes in western Maine lose their ice, reading “Shadows in the Stream” brought my thoughts that much closer to ice-out at Rangeley Lake, a pilgrimage that I make each spring.

Big bucks

Of interest to local deer hunters, Maine’s Big Bucks club, sponsored by “The Maine Sportsman” listed more than 400 deer taken during the 2005 season that weighed over 200 pounds. Maine has long been touted as the land of big deer and my next book proves that. “Boone and Crockett Club Records of North American Big Game,” (, now in it’s 12th edition, provides a compendium of big game records of North American quarry. Originally founded in 1877 by Theodore Roosevelt, the Boone and Crockett Club was formed as a conservationist organization, geared toward promoting hunter ethics, eliminating market hunting and establishing wildlife preserves. Today, the organization is widely known for establishing a system of scoring game animals and maintaining these records. This 900-page book is awe-inspiring to a “meat” hunter who tries to fill a deer tag to put tasty venison in the freezer. To make the record book, a white-tailed deer must meet a certain score based on the length and thickness of its antlers. While the largest “typical” whitetail rack (typical describes a set of antlers that is generally symmetrical and without unmatched, protruding points) was taken in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1993, many deer from Maine are in the record book in this category. One of Maine’s entries is 57th out of 3381 measured racks and was taken in Aroostook County in 1965.

Maine moose hunters have fared well in the Boone and Crockett club with numerous entries in the book for Canada moose (the designation of our subspecies of moose). A Maine hunter holds the number 18 spot for the world’s largest moose rack. This whopper was taken in 2002 by a hunter in Hancock County.

Renowned for excellent black bear hunting, Maine hunters have relatively few entries in the record book. While our bears may get large, skull size determines entrance into the record books, and Maine bears don’t seem to get as large as those in other parts of the country.

Boone and Crockett’s record book also contains several articles on the club’s efforts and plans, stories of past hunts and a section on historically important firearms.

While admittedly a large book, the Boone and Crockett 12th edition of game animal records provides an average hunter with a glimpse of the trophy hunting world that many of us can only dream of.

Although vastly different, these two books, Romano’s “Shadows in the Stream” and “Boone and Crockett Club Records of North American Big Game” provide an enjoyable read.

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